Have you stocked up on fresh cranberries yet? You’d better. They are one of the few fruits that still have a true season.
Unlike strawberries, melons or other seasonal fruits, which are imported year-round from regions with different growing seasons, cranberries are available fresh only during the North American cranberry season. When it’s done, they’re done. Fresh cranberry season only lasts a couple of months – starting right now. By the end of December, they’ll be gone till next fall.
Most people only seem to use cranberries for sauce at Thanksgiving and maybe for cranberry muffins, but they are really versatile.
They make a good seasonal substitute for blueberries, strawberries or other summer fruit in your favorite dessert recipes. (You may have to add a pinch more sugar, since cranberries are so tart, almost sour.)
They go well with other flavors, even ones that you may not have considered – ginger, chocolate, apple, orange and lemon.
They even work in some savory dishes, especially turned into a sauce for poultry or pork loin.
Cranberries do have a nice long shelf life; the bag you pick up today will probably still be good at Thanksgiving, or even later. If you will not use them within a couple weeks, put them in the freezer, where they will stay good for up to one year.
So pick up a couple extra bags, while you can. And start experimenting. This cranberry sauce recipe, from our own executive chef Casey Shanower, is a more flavorful alternative to regular old cranberry sauce, and is also good as a topping for cheesecake or poundcake.
Cranberry Orange Sauce with Ginger
1 lb fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked through
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
Zest of one orange
1 cup honey
1 Tbs fresh grated ginger
Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan, cook over medium heat, stirring often to prevent burning for 10-20 minutes or until berries just begin to burst. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature, or refrigerate for later use.